We all lead busy lives, and with all of the everyday tasks we have to worry about, it’s easy to let automobile maintenance slide. Here are a few simple ways to keep your vehicle in shape — and make sure you never miss a carpool, doctor’s appointment, or summer road trip because of an unplanned trip to the mechanic again.
Get Regular Tune-ups.
Keeping the vehicle properly tuned can save well over $100 a year, as a poorly tuned car will use between 25 and 33 percent more gas. The price of a tune-up always costs less than unexpected repairs caused by an improperly tuned engine. Regular engine tune-ups bring power and efficiency back to your car, which saves you money and gives you peace of mind on the long road home.
Stay on Top of Oil Changes.
Most new cars use synthetic motor oil, which means you can go longer between oil changes than the standard 3,000 mile recommendation. However, changing the engine oil and filter as recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer can save as much as $200 per year in fuel costs. Read your owner’s manual to find out the recommendation for your vehicle, and stick to a schedule. If you need to, set a reminder in your phone just like you would for any other recurring appointment.
Check the Fluids.
Check all fluids regularly, including radiator coolant, power steering, brake, transmission, clutch fluid, and windshield washer solution. Fluid levels are very crucial because allowing these levels to get too low will increase friction and wear on moving parts. Most oil change technicians will check your fluid levels for you, but you can also easily monitor them on your own. Windshield washer solution is a simple one to check and refill (you can find the solution at most grocery stores or big box retailers). Having a full tank of washer fluid not only keeps the windshield clean, it also saves wear on wiper blades, and helps avoid accidents due to poor visibility.
Clean the Air Filters.
Check the vehicle’s air filter once a month, and change it as soon as it is clogged or looks too dirty. Place a light on the inside of the filter and look to see if the light shines through the outside of the filter. If the light is obscured, it’s time to replace the filter. Again, most oil change technicians will do this for you, but in some cases you need to be sure to ask for the extra service.
Check the Tires.
Most people don’t even think about their tires until they find themselves with a flat. Keeping your tires balanced and rotated will not only extend the life of the tires, but save wear on the suspension system and increase gas mileage as well. Checking tire pressure is very important and should become a habit, especially before long road trips. In addition to increasing the life of the tires, properly inflated tires will increase gas mileage by 3-4 percent. This service isn’t typically included in most standard oil changes or tune-ups, but can easily be done by those technicians if requested.
Save On Gas.
Unless your vehicle manufacturer specially calls for it, don’t worry about spending money on premium gasoline. Most automobile engines are designed to run on regular unleaded gas, which usually costs about 15-18 percent less, on average, than premium fuel. If you’re not driving a luxury vehicle, or one that has specified fuel needs, skip that premium gas and save your money for something more important (like road trip snacks!).
Change Your Brakes.
This is not something the average driver should try themselves, but it’s incredibly important. Having the vehicle’s brakes checked regularly can help you save significantly on repair bills. Badly worn brake pads will almost always lead to major repairs, as the rivets that hold the pads in place can damage drums, rotors, and cause excessive pressure on wheel cylinders. Not having the brakes checked regularly can cost over $300 or more than just a routine brake job. Ask your regular mechanic or dealership maintenance department to check the brakes every time you take your car in for a tune-up.
Wax On, Wax Off.
This is probably the easiest tip on the list: wash and wax your vehicle regularly. Believe it or not, a clean and shiny car is up to eight percent more fuel efficient than a dirty ride. Small particles of dirt and grime can add up to create a substantial amount of wind resistance that causes the car’s engine to work harder. Keeping your car’s exterior clean will also save you on costly paint and chip repairs because everyday dirt can hurt your clear protection paint, especially during the spring when that famous Atlanta pollen starts coating everything in sight. If you live in a more snow-prone area, road salt could eat away at metal and paint and lead to very costly repairs down the line.
The change of seasons is a great time to run these simple maintenance checks. While you’re checking off your spring cleaning list, take some time to drive your car to the nearest automobile shop for some inspections and repairs. You might have to pay some money upfront for the vehicle maintenance, but it will save you money down the road (see what we did there?). Regular auto care will also help ease your mind knowing that every time you take your car out for a ride, you did everything you could to make it as safe as possible. Once you know your vehicle is safe for the road, make sure you have the right insurance coverage to keep you and your car protected. Our team of experts is ready to help you find the best package to fit your needs. Give us a call today!